Fire from Heaven?

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“Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). A Samaritan village rejected Jesus because He was headed for Jerusalem. It was James’ and John’s idea to call fire down from heaven. They were known as “Sons of Thunder” for their quick temper.

Do you have anger problems? I have dealt with this issue many years of my life. I regret that my children might remember me for my yelling, screaming and throwing things. If it were not for Jesus’ continual pursuit of me, I would still be stuck in my anger. Today I am thankful for His forgiveness and a life of peace and love and hope. It is so good I want to share it with you. Nothing is worth losing your peace over. Instead of being angry with people who mistreat or misunderstand you, you can love them, pray for them and show them respect and compassion as Jesus would.

God loved the world so much He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:16-17).

Some places in the Bible were so evil that God destroyed them, but He spared this Samaritan village. Later when Peter and John placed their hands on believers in Samaria and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit, they accepted it (Acts 8:17).

THINK ABOUT IT

We don’t know God’s plan, but He makes Himself clear to us as we seek Him with all our hearts. Can you imagine what John must have thought when the Samaritans rejoiced at receiving the Holy Spirit? If he would have followed his first instincts and destroyed the village for initially rejecting Jesus, these Samaritans would have died in their sin.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy. Thank you for your amazing love and your higher purposes for this world. Teach us your ways, O Lord. Show us the right paths to follow. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Servant

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James and John asked for places at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), and why not? They were His closest friends, in the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) of the larger group of twelve. He took them (and none of the others) with Him to Jairus’ house to give life back to his daughter. He took them on the mountain where He was transfigured. They, and none of the others, saw Jesus in His glory with Moses and Elijah. Following the Last Supper, Jesus took the twelve to the Garden of Gethsemane, but He asked Peter, James and John to go with Him a little further where He prayed. It seemed natural for them to seek positions of authority in His Kingdom.

Yet, their request came immediately after He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. Why did they skip over the suffering and go to kingdom thinking? Maybe they didn’t understand why Jesus would have to suffer and were afraid to ask. They must have been shocked by Jesus’ response: “To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant,” He said. “These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mark 10:40). Then Jesus told the disciples, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:41-43). Could Jesus have meant that being a servant would be to lead with a servant’s heart. The world needs people who govern with love, humility and compassion, but in this passage Jesus meant servant. He set the example at the Last Supper when He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist to wash the disciple’s feet. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. He cleansed the lepers and delivered people from demons. Even in all this, Jesus was persecuted, rejected and executed–not what we would expect of a king.

THINK ABOUT IT

Everything Jesus did was to show mercy and love to a lost and dying world. His kingdom begins with Him, His ways and His teaching. We, His followers, will do as He did–show love, compassion and mercy, help in times of trouble, forgive. Be His light in this dark world. Share the hope we have in Him. It might seem overwhelming, but He has promised to be with us always. He partners with us to accomplish all He calls us to do.

PRAY ABOUT IT

O Lord, help us to have a heart like yours, filled with love, mercy and compassion. It’s challenging in these days of isolation and distancing, but make us aware of times we can help others. Make us beacons of your light and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.